24 June 2017

Busy week of Barn Owls, Kittiwakes and Stormies

We've spent lot of the last week catching up on monitoring and ringing of some of our breeding birds. This has mostly involved Barn Owl boxes and Kittiwakes, but also some new-moon Storm Petrel and urban gull ringing.

So far this year we've ringed 16 adult and 30 nestling Barn Owls, and recaught 10 adults already with rings (including this bird from Suffolk). The birds at Windmill Farm reserve on the Lizard always offer a surprise and this year was no exception. Last year we saw one of the palest chicks we'd ever seen in the brood there and again this year we ringed one very pale chick. But of more interest was the unusual patterning on the wing, with the outer three primaries very different to the rest!

Amongst the other boxes visited was this brood of four chicks which chose not to use the whole of the box, but simply all bundle up on top of each other!

Aside from monitoring the Kittiwakes at Portreath from the cliff-tops, we continued our colour-ringing project at Trewavas Head at the weekend. While two group members kayaked round from Portleven, one climbed in bringing along a ladder to help reach some of the more lofty ledges. It's a good sign when a lot of the birds in the colonies here are already ringed, so we only managed to add another nine adults to our colour-marked population.

OWM-RNN (hatched in France in 2007) with a chick at Trewavas Head, the first time we've seen it breeding. It's been seen at Trewavas Head every year since 2012 but this is its first breeding attempt.

As for Storm Petrels, despite the light wind and early date, we managed to catch an impressive 81 birds at Lizard on one night, including three birds that were already ringed. One of these was from the Channel Islands, with the others both being ringed in 2016 in west Wales. One was ringed on Skokholm Island on 26th July and the other at nearby St David's four days later, providing further proof of the Celtic links of our Stormies.

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